‘Boys State’: Film Review

  • Variety
Every summer, more than 1,000 teens swarm the Texas State Capitol to attend Boys State, the annual American Legion-sponsored leadership conference where these incipient politicians divide into rival parties, the Nationalists and the Federalists, and attempt to build a mock government from the ground up. In 2017, the program attracted attention for all the wrong reasons (the attendees voted for Texas to secede from the United States), which gave filmmakers Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss an idea: What would it take to orchestrate a deep dive into the subsequent next session? Is there a right way to cover the testosterone- and Ritalin-fueled event?

One of the biggest sales of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival — for a documentary, no less — “Boys State” represents a revolution in vérité filmmaking, as McBaine and Moss (who collaborated on “The Overnighters”) . Like “Spellbound” and “Science Fair,” the film is essentially the feature-length equivalent of an elimination-style reality TV show,
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